Friday, February 6, 2015

Meet The Bubble Hook Maker - An Interview

I'm very please to provide y'all with a little peek at what it is like to be a clay hook maker. Kelli was kind enough to do an interview with me. I asked her some questions of my own and asked some that came from my Facebook page. One thing I do know, I didn't ask her exactly how she makes her hooks. They are her art, and I wouldn't ask an artist about their process even one who is a friend like Kelli is to me.






How long does a single hook take start to finish? 

It honestly depends on several factors, such as the brand ordered, the size (which determines color), and the finish ordered. A hook can be made as quickly as 3 hours start to finish. Or can be made across three days with sandings and glazings. A hook that also displays a "cane" would be hard to quantify in exact time. The canes themselves can be used many times but can take 1 to 3 days to create, before they are ready to be sliced to go onto hooks.


How did you get into working with clay? 

Originally I thought I might save myself some money. I learned quickly that it takes more money than I ever anticipated to make clay hooks correctly. There is alot of trial and error that goes into your first few practice runs. As it turns out, I am artistic by nature and seemed to have a natural talent for it. So luckily, I eventually got good enough to offer my work to others. Initially my 3-dimensional clay creation hooks caused many custom orders, but I have always wanted to sell a product that is comfortable to use. I feel if you are investing money into a good set of hooks, they should be usable. So I eventually pulled away from 3-D character hooks to obtain the maximum comfort level on my product. This also prevents orders for copyrighted characters.


What was the inspiration for the bubble hooks? 

I had discovered a line of hooks that were very expensive that I had saved for and drooled over. A close friend bought me one for Christmas and it bent within a few hours. I was so brokenhearted. The company was kind and replaced the hook with a version made from an even more expensive material, but I did not care for the way that material felt against my yarn. This led me to desperately want a smooth gliding in line head, but an ergonomic shape that worked for both grip types I sold to. After trails at combining all my favorite things I had found in different hooks, I arrived at what I named my "Pearl Bubble Hook" line. Pearl because they are always made of a clay that has a pearlesque sheen to it and bubble because the shapes remind me of blowing bubbles in the spring.

How does she color the handles? 

The clay colors are arrived in by mixing portions. I have been able to collect data on which ratios give me the best colors, and I am careful when I buy the actual hooks to make sure the actual aluminum handle is not "off color". But there a few that I am lucky enough that a clay color is already made that matches close to spot on, such as a Bates H in Teal, I do not have to mix color at all.

Are there any 'practical' advantages of choosing 'glazed' over 'matte or unglazed'?

The are both advantages and disadvantages to ordering glazed hooks. The advantage is, I feel like it "gels" everything together, and it gives the pearl clays the most beautiful shine. The disadvantage is that of course anything we touch repeatedly with our hands over time will show wear.

The same is true with Matte hooks, the advantage is a matte hook only adds the patina from your hand oils over time. The disadvantage is, for me personally, I use my "nails" alot in grabbing my yarn to go over my hook, and sometimes put little chips in my clay after a while.
My personal set is a set of clover amours that are color matched and glazed, although I admit I sometimes sell my own if a customer would otherwise be stuck waiting on a backorder.


How does she bake them? Does she have a clay oven or does she use her kitchen oven? 

I have both and have used both. If a normal oven is used, you need to have an oven thermomenter.


How many hooks has SICK 'LIL MONKEYS sold? 

 We have sold over 1100 Pearl Bubble hooks, and just over 500 of other styles of hooks. And we are proud to say we have shipped to 21 countries now!


What types of specialty tools are used? 

 Each clay artist and hook are different, of course, but for example to create a glazed Bubble Hook, I would use the following items from my clay cabinet: Pasta Roller, Roller Bar, Clay, Razor Blade, Surgical Tissue Blades, aluminum hooks, sandpaper, Dremel, extra virgin olive oil, polyurethane glaze, polymer clay, clay oven, and heat activated specialty clay glue


Where does she acquire her tools and supplies? 

For a very small amount of items Michael's will have the basics. But most clay tools worth actually purchasing , at least in my area have to be ordered online. Some supplies come from as far as the UK.


Can I read any reviews about these hooks outside of this article? 

Sure, The SickLilMonkeyz Etsy Shoppe has over 70 reviews to help you see how others feel about their Bubble hooks! https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/SickLilMonkeyz/reviews




As a special treat, Kelli gave me a code for y'all to get 25% off. The code is good until the 15th and there are a limited number. Code is: CTBLINTERVIEW. This is good in her Etsy shop.